When World War Two started
and the German Panzers started rolling into Poland President Roosevelt
made an emergency proclamation on September 8, 1939. He authorized an
increase in the Army and National Guard. In addition, the USA had 12
million dollars to spend on transportation. Soon thereafter there was a
total of 2 billion dollars allocated. Due to Germany’s fast movement
into France, Holland and Poland, the USA decided they needed to build a
light weight vehicle that could easily carry men and equipment through
all types of rough terrain. The US Army Quartermaster Corps extended an
open invitation to manufacturers to put together a prototype vehicle
that could accomplish this.
At the start only two companies showed an interest in taking on this
project. They were American Bantam and Willy’s Overland. Ironically,
they were both having economic problems. Willys Overland presented the
Willys Quad and Bantam showcased the Bantam Reconnaissance Car or also
knows as the (BRC). Because of the seriousness of the war, each company
was given less than three months to take their concept to prototype.
The Willys vehicle did not make the deadline therefore Bantam received a
contract for 70 vehicles after heavy testing was done on the prototype.
After vigorous testing on the prototypes over a 30 day period at Camp
Holabird, the Bantam Model 60 did very well and only needed minor
repairs that were easily fixed.
As mentioned, the Willys Overland initially lost to Bantam for the
initial contract, they were still anxious to be involved in the
development of a vehicle due to the major financial strains they were
under. Willys Overland built a prototype at their expense. It was the
4x4 Quad powered by a 2199cc side valve four cylinder engine pumping out
65 base horse power. For the most part the Quad was similar to the
Bantam, with the exception of a more boxy appearance.